On Wednesday of Masters week, Crenshaw and Tom Kite were burying their longtime coach, Harvey Penick. On Thursday they hurried back to make their tee times. And on Sunday at sundown, Crenshaw was standing in the winner's ceremony at the Masters. 'Fate had dictated another championship, as it has done so many times,' Crenshaw said.
And indeed it had. There was simply no way Ben was going to lose. Harvey Penick, it seems, made sure of that. 'I don't think there was any stopping Ben, really,' said Davis Love III, who finished one shot back of Crenshaw. 'I think it was just to be that Ben would play well.'
Jose Maria Olazabal was the leader at the end of first round, a round in which Crenshaw shot 70 and trailed by four. Jay Haas shot a 64 the second round and led with Crenshaw now just two behind after shooting 67. Crenshaw finally got into a tie for the lead after Round 3, his 68 the same score as Brian Henninger to set up the last day of play.
Crenshaw came into the tournament missing three out of four cuts. The problem, strange enough for the man who is one of the world's great putters, was his putting. Just two weeks before the Masters and Penick's death, Ben had a putting lesson in the bedroom of the elderly man who was bedridden and could hardly speak. And he had a lesson from Augusta National caddy Carl Jackson, who has worked for him at every Masters since 1976. Together, they made the difference and Crenshaw couldn't have been more deadly accurate as he went about his business on Sunday.
It was the putter - Little Ben, he calls it - that repeatedly held Greg Norman and Love at bay. Not once the entire week did he three-putt. His most memorable stroke was a 13-foot left-to-right stroke at 17 that gave him a two-stroke lead going into the final hole.
'I played 17 like a dream,' he said. 'I hit a little 9-iron pin-high left and then hit the prettiest putt I ever hit. The second it off my putter, I could tell it was heading home.'
Norman, Love and Crenshaw were tied for the lead late in the back nine, but Norman went by the wayside when he bogeyed 17 with a 60-foot putt. Love bogeyed the 16th with three putts. Crenshaw birdied 16 with a five-foot roller, birdied 17 and got to the green jacket ceremony.
He bent in uncontrollable emotion it was over, helped gently upright by Jackson. 'I let it all go,' Crenshaw said. 'I couldn't wait any longer.'